While not the most commonly used or abused drug substance in America or even in the world, methamphetamine is undoubtedly one of the most potent and addictive drug substances currently available, and it can create psychological dependency issues after even just one use. It is also an extremely destructive drug substance, quickly destroying an individual’s physical and mental health. In 2005 alone, over one hundred eight thousand hospital emergency room visits in the United States were due to the abuse of meth, which was a dramatic forty-eight percent increase over just one year prior, in 2004. During the decade between 1995 and 2005, there was a very sharp increase in methamphetamine treatment admissions across the country – from nearly forty-eight thousand individuals to over one hundred fifty-two thousand individuals.

Preventing Meth Use

The destructive effects of meth use are extensive in nature, and can begin to occur immediately after meth use begins. Furthermore, the normal pattern of meth use involves a binge-and-crash routine, wherein the individual typically continues using meth every few hours until they either run out of meth or finally crash physically, often into a very deep and long sleep. This means that meth abuse and addiction problems are difficult to address and permanently resolve, giving one more impetus to work at preventing meth use from occurring in the first place.

One of the first steps to preventing meth use is by understanding what meth is, how it affects the human body, and how an individual can fully and successfully recover from its use. Meth is a stimulant drug substance that is most commonly produced in home laboratories using over-the-counter ingredients, which means that most of the meth prevention efforts have been focused around restricting the sale of various substances, such as pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, so that individuals cannot purchase these substances in sufficient quantities to be able to produce methamphetamine. However, these restrictions are not entirely effective since an individual can simply have various other individuals make the necessary purchases at a variety of pharmacies until the required amount is obtained.

In Maine, Commander Crandall of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency has noticed that more methamphetamine has made its way from “superlabs” and across both the Mexican and Canadian borders into the United States. This could lead to international negotiations regarding specific preventative policies that can be introduced to further address traffickers who may be taking advantage of previously established drug routes.

In 1996, Congress passed the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act (CMEA) in an effort to identify methamphetamine as a dangerous, harmful and highly addictive drug substance. The CMEA also stated that aggressive action was needed by law enforcement agencies in order to fight methamphetamine abuse. It also increased the penalties for both producing and trafficking methamphetamine, and placed sales restrictions on the chemicals commonly used to produce meth.

In addition to the CMEA statutes, many states have further improved their prevention and early detection strategies. For example, in Illinois, all products that contain either pseudoephedrine or ephedrine are considered Schedule V drugs. Furthermore, certain “indicators” of meth production and trafficking, such as arrests, seizures, submissions, lab seizures, prison admissions and drug treatment admissions were reviewed, and the state was able to gain $3.5 million from the government in order to further fight drug crime in obviously affected areas. These various interventions resulted in a seventeen percent decline in meth lab incidents between 2004 and 2005, and a fifteen percent decrease in positive drug tests in the workplace during the first five months of 2006.

Stopping Meth Addiction with Early Detection

Effective meth prevention also includes, of course, early detection, which means better understanding how meth affects the individual. When meth enters the body and bloodstream, the user will feel an intense rush, following by a high that eventually wears off and leaves the user feeling lethargic, irritable, depressed and suffering from intense cravings. The individual may not be able to sleep for long periods of time, they may suffer extreme weight loss, dramatic mood swings, increased heart rate, respiration and blood pressure, hallucinations, paranoia, panic, nervousness, irritability, aggressive and violent behavior, open sores from picking at the skin, tooth decay, unpleasant body odor similar to glue or mayonnaise and other obvious physical and behavioral changes. These are some of the early signs that can allow someone to detect whether meth use is occurring.

In addition to the physical signs of meth use in an individual, one can also look for some of the environmental signs of meth production and use. The supplies used to manufacture meth can include coffee filters, starter fluid, paint thinner, aluminum foil, lithium batteries, Acetone, cold packs, Drano, clear plastic tubing, fertilizer, matchbook striker plates and more. Other signs that a meth lab may be in the area include unusual, strong and chemical odors, an unusual number of chemical containers outside the facility, covered or blacked-out windows, excessive traffic at night, exhaust fans, people hanging around who are demonstrating odd, paranoid, secretive or protective behavior and other similar activities.

If an individual detects any of the signs of meth production, trafficking or use, they should immediately contact local law enforcement agencies. It is vitally important to also immediately leave the area, as the entire environment around a meth lab can be highly toxic and very dangerous.

When Meth Prevention Falls Short

Ideally, meth use is simply detected and prevented prior to creating major addiction problems. However, many individuals continue to struggle with drug addictions despite the best preventative measures, and therefore it is very important to also provide them with the means to recover fully. Meth addiction is best addressed and resolved through professional rehabilitation treatment that specializes in treating this complex and difficult problem. The truth is that meth addiction can and has been successfully resolved time and again, but most individuals will need help getting the necessary treatment.

With the skills necessary for early detection and meth prevention, as well as the skills necessary to fully address and resolve meth addiction when it occurs, the terrible and destructive downward trend of meth use can effectively be halted and reversed.